Martin Whitmarsh has again sprung to the defence of Lewis Hamilton in the wake of his driver's latest accident-strewn race weekend in F1 2011 in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – arguing that the 2008 world champion's hard-charging, all-out aggression style makes the sport 'a more exciting place to be'.
Hamilton has endured something of a crash course of a season at times this year, colliding with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado in Monaco, coming together with his own McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button only a fortnight later in Canada, forcing Force India F1 rookie Paul di Resta off the track in avoidance as he recovered from a spin in Hungary by performing a pirouette in front of the oncoming traffic – and then clashing with Maldonado again in qualifying in Belgium and with Kamui Kobayashi in the race.
On the majority of those occasions, the 26-year-old has been adamant that he was not at fault – although he subsequently revised his opinion over the Kobayashi incident [see separate story – click here
] – and in Monaco, he famously and controversially hit out at the number of drive-through penalties and reprimands he has received this year, angrily railing that 'out of six races, I've been to the stewards five times – it's a joke, an absolute frickin' joke'.
The Woking-based outfit's team principal Whitmarsh clearly believes the British star has been unfairly singled out for overly severe treatment – although he contends that Hamilton is increasingly reacting to the criticism and sanctions 'with maturity, dignity and in a cool way'.
“My opinion is that Lewis was extremely unlucky,” the Englishman told The Guardian
, when asked about the Spa collision with Kobayashi. “I think he gave some space. You can always say why didn't he give more, but he gave some space.
“He had to move over to the racing line, and the onus is on trying to avoid hitting the car in front of you, in my view, but in these matters my view doesn't amount to much – it's up to the stewards, and the stewards felt that it was purely a racing accident. I felt that Kobayashi was much more responsible than that, but perhaps I'm not the most impartial witness...
“[Hamilton] is an immensely competitive and passionate racing driver. People know they've got to commit quite heavily to get past him, and he's always going to commit to go past. I think Lewis Hamilton makes F1 a more exciting place to be, so we should all hope that Lewis continues to be one of the most exciting racing drivers that any of us have seen. I don't want him to change. I've spoken to Lewis out of the car, and he's had some disappointments recently but I think the new Lewis has dealt with those very well.
“I think he was dealt with very harshly in Hungary, and I think a lot of people felt that. He dealt with that with maturity, dignity and in a cool way. That was a step in the right direction, I think, so he's learning and developing, but he's a racing driver who's competitive. I'm sure people were saying that at various times, or most of the time, in Ayrton [Senna]'s career and they said it for [Michael] Schumacher's career – in fact I think they're still saying it. I think with those competitive drivers, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.”